11 Feb 2004

Fiji hostage taker to be released next week

9:02 am on 11 February 2004

The retired army officer who led soldiers into storming Fiji's parliament and taking the government hostage during George Speight's coup will be released from Nukulau Island prison next week.

The Fiji Sun reports thaqt Ilisoni Ligairi's release has been confirmed by police but the commissioner of prisons would only say that two people would be released.

Ligairi was sentenced for three years in February 2002 but because he had already been in custody for one year, only two years remained to be served.

Ligairi was charged with procuring armed force by illegal means to take over parliament, detaining the prime minister and his government and intent to overthrow the government.

Senior Labour Party MP, Poseci Bune, who was one of Ligairi's hostages, is quoted as saying that he had known they would be released soon and hoped they had learned their lesson.

Mr Bune adds that it is disappointing that the evidence that put Ligairi and others behind bars is the same evidence that the authorities have on people who are still walking free.